Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From Lido's Point of View

You do ride pretty, but not as good as me.
My riding is a little bouncy cause only part of my body works.
Keep on riding. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You run fast with two strong legs, but not as good as me.
I run far and fast on bare feet.
Keep on running. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You get on a wild horse that Steve holds tight.
I busted five, in one day, that had never been ridden.
You keep on being tough. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You learn to judge people, and horses for what they can become.
I learned to judge people for the good that they have done.
You go try to learn to not judge people at all. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You will ride through the woods all round the horse lot.
After a while you will get sore but I will not.
Now my body doesn't tire, my ankle doesn't hurt.
Here in Heaven everybody talks just like me,
Well, actually not quite as good as me.

My youngest brother Lido, who died yesterday at age 17, is shown above riding a mustang in a clinic that we put on. He was about 14 then and had been working Sand Creek for about a week. During the week he taught this barely started colt to come to a stop with his sole cue being to exhale deeply. I will never forget the look of relief on his young owner's face when she came to realize that her young mustang really could be trained. Lido was born with cerebral palsy. He still had it when he died in a hunting accident yesterday, but between the time he was born and when he died he kicked cerebral palsy's ass.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Brother's Keeper

For several years the first person to get on the wild horses that I had was my little brother Patrick (Lido). One day when he was about 10 he mounted five horses that had never been mounted and only got bucked off of one of them. During one of my clinics with a particularly rough BLM mare who gave me great difficulty in saddling, I heard a voice coming out of the audience as I explained that I would not be mounting her for the clinic. "Um ah bolunteer," Lido called out.

Lido's speech was as labored as much of his movement. He was born with cerebral palsy and his speech was severely impacted by the malady. It was not as impacted as his body. His right arm was nearly worthless to him. He ran, ran hard, trained hard and worked hard. He built a rock hard, lean body with more strength in his left side that most teens had in their entire bodies.

He struggled, he worked, and this morning he died. He died in a hunting accident and did not suffer for a moment. He died doing what he loved best.

My house has been full today. It has been filled with grief and my riders and their families. No happy ending to this story. I am so glad that I can count on my friends and my riders and my wonderful wife.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Quick Thought

All of my riders are quite bright and perceptive and that is certainly true of Amanda. Yesterday she told me that she had gotten Joe Camp's great book on natural horsemanship and natural horse care, The Soul of A Horse, for Christmas.
She said, "I think that anyone who has a horse and keeps it stabled would feel very guilty after they read a few chapters of that book."
Oh, would that that were true. Books like this will drive the the revolution in horse care the same way Thomas Paine's pamphlet, Common Sense, drove the American Revolution. It is impossible to over estimate the potential good that books like Camp's can do for horses.

Its a Wonderful Life--A Mill Swamp Christmas

I do not especially like Christmas. In fact, that is an understatement. I dislike Christmas as it has become in America--a festival designed around commercialism and greed. With that said, my family and my riders have really made this a wonderful holiday. The best part of Christmas came early when I got to tell a very hard working and dedicated young rider that the horse that she was training was her Christmas present. Two other horses went out to a county to the west of us and made for a very special Christmas for a family in Nelson county. Two new little riders had their first rides with us and Katie went on her first hard ride.
The next night the parents of my riders put together a spectacular Christmas party at the Little House which was attended by one of my daughters, her husband and my grand daughter. I was touched at the wonderful gifts that I received. The holiday just kept getting better. Katelynn decided to create a web site designed to inform young people about the threats that the Corollas face to their continued existence. She is a gifted writer and I have no doubt that her web site will be tremendous. On Christmas Day my three year old grandson came over, opened his presents, looked around the room and said, "I want to go ride a horse."
Friday Rebecca's father was visiting from Detroit. He got a chance to ride with us and to see what a spectacular trainer Rebecca has become. My wife has become a very strong person and is in great health. She plans to start riding hard again this year.
Yesterday I began to work Red Feather again. He took Jacob and Ashley on his back while I lead him for over an hour without serious incident.
Thanks to my family, my riders, and my horses this has been a very Merry Christmas.

This is a picture of Terry on Quien Es? from the 2007 Christmas Parade.

Friday, December 26, 2008


We teach small children to train wild horses. We work very hard to prevent the extinction of the Corolla Spanish mustangs. We encourage natural horse care and natural hoof care. And we refuse to walk lock step behind the dictates of the established horse world.
That means that our program, to say the least, is not universally loved. In fact, we receive the occasional note filled with raging hostility and pure vitriol. It is not surprising that we receive such hostility. Programs such as ours are a threat to an elitist horse world which has created a system of 'horsemanship' that puts horse ownership beyond the means of working families, all to the detriment of horses and kids.
What the critics have in common is fear. They fear that their deeply held belief in the legitimacy of the pronouncements of the established horse world will be proven to be misplaced. They fear that their perception as being equine experts will be destroyed if more people learn how to develop the kind of relationships with horses that they are incapable of establishing.
They are like the young horses running in this herd behind Medicine Dog. They are followers. They do not know where they are going. They do not know why they are running.
We know where we are going. We know why we are running. And most importantly, we do not fear being in the front of the herd.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm Ready For My Close Up Mr. DeMill

We are looking at taking on several new projects in 2009 such as hide tanning, stone tool making, introduction to mounted archery and we may even make a small log cabin. Of course we will also be breaking several colts this summer.
The training DVD that we made a few years ago has proven quite popular and we are now looking into the feasibility of producing a documentary on the Corollas that we will be training over the summer.
As much make up as some of these girls wear just to ride I am sure that they will be putting it on by the handful to get ready to be filmed. I just hope that they do not put on so much that it effects their balance in the saddle.


We are often asked where Chincoteagues fit in with Corollas and Shacklefords. I suspect that around the year 1700 they would have been pretty much indistinquishable. But in the 20th Century many other breedes were introduced into the Assateague herd where the Chincoteagues have lived wild for hundreds of years. These other breeds changed the Assateague Spanish horse of colonial times into an Americanized mixture of various breeds. The good news is that becuase of Margarite Henry's book and the subsequent movie, Misty of Chincoteague, these horses will be on the Virginia side of Assateague Island for decades to come. The only down side of this great publicity is that many people have come to think of the Chincoteague as simply a child's pony.

In reality they are nearly as tough as the Bankers of Corolla and Shackleford. All but the smallest make fine mounts for adults. Their gaits are not as comfortable as pure Colonial Spanish Horses as a result of the infusion of other breeds but they maintain the easy trainability and endurance of the Corollas.

For two seasons I crossed a Chincoteague stallion with a few BLM mares. The result has been a string of easy handling, beautiful horses that develop very tight bonds with their owners. At least two of these horses, Young Joseph and Washikie, may very well end up breaking point records in the AIHR over the next few years.

It certainly is ironic that the offspring of wild horses that we are producing have calm gentle temperments not often found in doimestic breeds. If for no other reason, that is why I cringe when I read about people who plan to 'improve' the Spanish Mustang through their breeding programs.

This is Standing Rock, from Wind in His Hair (Chincoteague) and Standing Holy (BLM).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Against the Wind

The hot topic on many equine message boards today is what is called responsible breeding. Certainly no one can be against the concept of responsibility but we reject the ultimate implications of this silly rush to "responsible breeding" as it is defined by some of its advocates. Instead we advocate a very simple principle of equine stewardship which is that breeders should breed no more horses than they can care for and sell. Three factors underlie that determination---the overall economy, the breeder's skill in training and handling horses, and the demand for the specific type of horse being bred.
In the long run horses may benefit from the extreme downturn in the economy that this nation faces. Conventional horse care is as economically inefficient as it is misguided. Natural horse care cost only a fraction of what is spent for "full stable board". It is ironic that some owners may be driven to natural horse care out of economic necessity only to discover just how happy, healthy, and responsive their horse can be when it is allowed to live a natural existence. The same is true of natural hoof care. The cost of continued mistreatment of the horse's balance, comfort, and over all health by unnecessary shoeing may cause more owners to learn the benefits of maintaining a barefoot horse. (We recognize that some horses need corrective shoeing and those few horses that would benefit from such therapy should continue to be shod. However, those horses are few and far between).
Unfortunately, many of the proponents of breeding restrictions under the rubric of their Orwellian term "responsible breeding" would seek to direct the horse industry in the exact opposite direction. They seek to increase the cost of horse ownership by restricting supply and the perpetuation of the myth that the competition horse is somehow superior to the family horse.
Breeders of rare and endangered horses must resist this hand wringing and look closely at the factors that have lead to this hysteria about unwanted horses. This belief grew out of the campaign to support horse slaughter. Proponents of horse slaughter predicted such dire consequences for the industry. They spent so much money to protect the practice that a belief has developed that because we no longer send 1% of the equine population to slaughter in America we somehow have a huge surplus of unwanted, neglected horses. (Of course, they ignore the fact that those horses are still being exported for slaughter to other countries).
There is, however, a problem with a poor market for horses as those horses are now produced in America. The mainline breeds, with their emphasis on competition have produced too many horses with costs that are beyond the means of working people. The irony is rich when such breeders complain that breeds as rare as the Spanish Mustang, or even worse, the Banker strain of Spanish Mustangs, are responsible for the market glut. Such misguided people are but strainers of gnats and swallowers of camels.
I hope that enough mustang breeders and true preservationist of rare breeds can ignore the siren song of those who advocate equine genocide under their self congratulatory claim of being "responsible breeders." Many are drawn to the mantra that responsible breeding means to only breed horses that have 'proven' themselves (in competitions, of course) so that the resulting offspring 'improves' the breed. In short, their solution is to follow the lead of those who are responsible for the 'improvement' of today's Arabians, Quarter Horses, and Thoroughbreds. Quarter Horses have been improved all the way to the slaughter houses. I have no interest in having Corolla Spanish Mustangs follow them there.
Unfortunately, the solution to the problem of excess horses requires more work than simply tinkering with the status quo by loading up the slaughter houses and shutting down breeders of rare and endangered horses. We support responsibility in breeding and what we call for is much more rigorous and much more radical than the smug claims of big money breeders who find a responsible solution to only be the solution that is best in keeping with their greed.
The responsible breeding that we support is as follows:
1. The demarcation between those who breed and those who train must end. Breeders must be able to train so that they produce either started riding age colts or well trained weanlings for sale.
2. Breeders must adjust their breeding plans annually according to the market and their own financial capabilities. In short do not raise more colts than can be sold or used in one's own operation after breaking to saddle.
3. Breeders should promote natural horsemanship, natural horse care and natural hoof care in order to decrease the cost of horse ownership and increase the pool of potential owners.
This prescription for responsible breeding would revolutionize the horse industry and solve the problem of surplus horses. The horse of today faces one major problem--an entrenched established horse world. The horse of today has only one hope--that a new horse world can be developed that focuses on how to best raise horses instead of how to squeeze the most money out of them.
Mokete, pictured above, is the first foal born of our off site breeding program designed prevent the possible extinction of the Corolla Spanish Mustangs. After having given due consideration to the proponent of the status quo who demanded that we end our breeding program, I decline to do so.

Friday, December 19, 2008

With All Due Modesty

We pause now from our discussion of natural horse care to reflect a bit on the last year at the horse lot. I am a very poor keeper of records. By January 1 we will have all eligible horses registered with the Horse of the Americas Registry and the American Indian Horse Registry so that my little riders (and the grown ones) can receive credit for their accomplishments with their horses. For now I will search my memory and list some of those accomplishments for the year 2008.

Brenna, Riley, Jacob, JK, Amanda and Lea all got horses broke and in the woods this summer. In addition,we broke Persa and Wanchese, (Shacklefords)and two other Corollas. Danielle greatly improved her knowledge and skill in training over the year.

Rider Accomplishments:

Sarah Lin, Theresa, Chance, Kay, Jacob, Jordan, Lea,Rylee and Amanda each advanced to the Hard Riders who ride longer, faster and through rougher conditions than those new to riding.

Robert and Katie, and another Katie, Wendy, and Loretta canter confidently.

Liz rode a Corolla mare forty six miles in one day, less than thirty days after the horse was captured. The Forty Six Mile ride is detailed in a previous post entitled "On Glory Road."

Five of my riders acquired new HOA or AIHR horses.


One TV interview regarding my book and the Corollas.
Feature article in Virginia Sportsman.
Articles in several papers concerning the birth of the first pure Corolla from the offsite breeding program.

Promotions and Events

We took several Corollas to the Dare County July 4 Parade and rode the wild horses quite well.
We did clinics and demonstrations at the Delaware Horse Expo and the annual meeting of the Horse of the Americas Registry.
We took Corollas out to events at two tack shops.
Kay Kerr developed a great program in which she has taught several riders to produce beautiful art works whose sale proceeds will go to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
Some of my riders were in the local Christmas parade and most of my riders rode on the September 20 Forty Six Mile Ride.
Of course, we continued our policy of holding open house colt starting sessions on Saturday afternoons in which the general public gets an opportunity to see natural horsemanship at work.
Chas is getting his Eagle Scout recognition for construction work that he is doing to assist in our efforts to keep the Corollas in front of the public.
Katelynn continues to use her tremendous writing skills to promote the Corollas.
Rebecca put a great deal of work into designing our horse training enclosure that Sarah Lin named the Amusement Park. (I hope that you will be seeing great pictures of the Amusement Park in use this Spring)

Awards and Honors

For our work to protect and promote the wild horses of Corolla we received the Keeper of the Flame Award from the American Indian Horse Registry and Brent received a miles ridden recognition from the AIHR.

Team Work

The kids love the horses and riding. I do too, but what touches me the most is the amount of enthusiastic support and hard work that we get from the families of my little riders. They are the answer to the question, "How do you run all this by yourself?" I do not. And that means an awful lot to me.

I am absolutely certain that I have forgotten to mention many significant accomplishments of a lot of my riders and their families. For every one in our program, if I left you out, please set the record straight with a comment.

Remember, according to that wii machine, I am too old to be expected to remember any of this stuff.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On This We Stand

The New Horsemanship Movement stands on three pillars, natural horsemanship, natural hoof care, and natural horse care. The goal of New Horsemanship is to increase the number of new horse owners and to insure that those new owners understand how to properly care for their horses. New Horseman believe that artificial barriers to horse ownership must be removed.
Chief among these barriers is the artificially high cost to purchase, train, and maintain horses that the established horse world has created as the appropriate model for horsemanship.
Inflated purchase prices are a direct result of the dominance of competitors in various equine events, who have been successful in convincing too many members of the non horse owning public that a horse's value is somehow tied to its purchase price. Competitors make up a rather small portion of the horse owning public, but because of the tremendous amount that they spend on assorted equibusiness products, their power in the industry is disproportionate to their numbers.
The lynch pin of New Horsemanship is its reliance on natural horsemanship as the only appropriate technique to properly develop an optimum relationship between horses and humans and is the only system of training techniques currently known that optimizes the horse's potential for happiness. Most significantly, New Horseman view success with natural horsemanship as being fully with in the reach of both young people and those with no prior equine experience, provided that they obtain proper assistance and instruction.
Natural Hoof Care and Natural Horse Care go hand in hand in that both significantly reduce the cost of horse ownership and both provide horses with greatly improved health and performance. Neither Natural Hoof Care nor Natural Horse Care focus on savings by determining "what frill a horse can do without," but instead focus on how to produce the healthiest and happiest horses possible.
New Horsemanship recognizes that it is, in fact, the oldest of horsemanship, and hearkens back to a time when young people were respected enough to allow them to start healthy colts who lived bare footed on grass, shrubs, and, yes, weeds.
New Horseman recognize that the answers to the problems of the future can often be found by studying what has worked in the past.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Emperor is Naked as a Jaybird

I do not agree with some of the advocates of the New Horsemanship who claim that we can learn nothing from the established horse world in our efforts to improve the quality of both horse/human relationships and the health and happiness of horses. In fact, I think that the effectiveness of the New Horsemanship movement is absolutely dependant on our ability to understand and avoid the most significant mistakes of the established horse world. If New Horsemanship is to achieve its goal of making natural horsemanship, natural horse care and natural hoof care the norm for the next generation of horse owners we must be willing to make the commitment to reform not just an industry but an entire horse culture.
Such reforms will not be accepted with open arms. In fact, to hope for more than blind hostility is unrealistic. I have no interest in seeking the approval or acceptance of the established horse world of breeders and competitors. Their power is based primarily on the blind willingness of others to accept them as experts in the field. The economic power of the equibusinesses that make feeds, supplements, blankets, bedding, etc has no incentive to encourage New Horsemanship.
In the next series we will lay out the core beliefs of New Horsemanship with its emphasis on creating a new generation of horse owners who have the knowledge to understand and properly care for horses.
Those core beliefs stand in stark contrast to the elitism that permeates the established horse world. We certainly will not stoop to the base language and crude insults of those who seek to preserve the status quo,but neither will we pretend that the pronouncements of any spokesman for the established horse world have any validity whatsoever simply because that spokesman is recognized as an 'expert' by those who share, or mimic, his beliefs.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just a Little Room Please

The real test of natural horsemanship is two fold. Does it make for happier, better controlled horses? And equally important, does it make us better people? The 'established horse world' has a one pronged test for success. Does it make money for us?
When properly taught natural horsemanship passes both test. What it does for the horses is beyond question. More telling is what it does for the people that apply natural horsemanship. On more than one occasion my riders have been compared to students in traditional lesson programs. It is often pointed out that my riders, even the young teenage girls, lack the arrogance and snobbery, so often exhibited by other riders there age. Most of all my riders are happy. They love their horses and they love teaching them. Better grades, more patience, more demonstrations of responsibility, generosity, and maturity are the hall marks of kids who have mastered natural horsemanship. They learn that kindness is natural.
Traditional riding instruction, especially if it emphasizes competition, often does not bring out the best in people, especially kids. It is sad to see the base and crude level of discourse being generated by anyone who claims to love horses. Of course, there are many great teachers who love kids and horses who teach in a traditional style but still do so in a manner that build character in their students. But somewhere along the way the importance of developing a relationship with horses all too often falls to the side.
My riders are better people because of the achievements they have made with their horses. I do not expect the established horse world to be able to solve the problem of not attracting more kids to riding. I cannot even say, if you will not be part of the solution than stop being part of the problem, because there are too many good people involved in the established horse world. But I can say this. If you will not lead,or follow or get out of the way, than just give us enough room to develop programs that will draw kids to riding.
Lastly, please do not waste your time telling me that "real horsemen","true professionals", or "established breeders" do not approve of our program. I do not seek such approval and would be very concerned if I had it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Color of Time

What color is time?
For my little riders time is green,
Time is the color of spring,
Time is the color of life to be.
Time is the color of 'will be.'

What color is time?
Today time is gray.
Time is the color of a December sky.
Time is the color of Ta Sunka in the mud.
Time is the color of 'was.'

The Natural Foot

There are a lot of good bare foot horse specialist out there and I do not disparage any of them by saying I follow Pete Ramey 100%. I wasted so much time and effort dealing with hoof cracks over the years all because I did not understand the form and function of the natural hoof.
His methods work wonders on hooves that most would have given up on and they improve even a very healthy hoof, provided that the horse gets to live as naturally as possible. Get his book, buy his videos, and go to his clinics. Might be the best thing that you ever do for your horse.
Tim Ware makes the great point that there is no one single model for a natural hoof. In fact the hoof develops to suit the terrain. Shacklefords and Corollas have very different hooves than mustangs from the western ranges. However, in my experience, the best hoof model for a horse to be heavily ridden over varied terrain is the western model that Ramey uses.
Take a close look at the feet of Croatoan's three year old handler in the picture above. She prefers the natural foot for herself too.

Wild and Free

I do not ever want anyone to mistakenly assume that the training and breeding program that we have developed for the Corollas will be an adequate substitute for maintaining a wild herd on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. All we are creating is a safety net, and a tenuous one at best.
Before cars, before the Civil War, before Nat Turner and Dred Scott, before the Constitution, before the Revolution, and yes, even before the settlers landed at Jamestown, Spanish Colonial horses roamed free in the southeast. Now they only reside wild and free and purely Spanish at Corolla and Shackleford.
They survived the wars. They survived the hurricanes. What ever the threat, they survived. If your ancestors, be they black, northern European, Indian, or Spanish, lived in the triangle drawn from Richmond to New Orleans to Key West; between the early 1500's and the American Revolution, they rode and worked these little Spanish horses. These horses carried my ancestors to their weddings, their wars, and their funerals.
Why should they be preserved? Because we do not have the right to extinguish history.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Going to the Principal's Office

Last week I wormed Cynthia Parker and Ghost Dance. I trimmed the feet of each. I know that that does not sound like much of an accomplishment, but Cynthia has taken to striking out with intensity and vigor that can be entirely unsettling for the person trying to worm her. Even Ghost Dance has taken to rearing and striking (though in a much more half-hearted effort) when I sought to worm her in the pasture.
Both started to give me trouble in the pasture last week. I took both of these mature mares in the round pen and worked them for about 15 minutes each. Neither offered the slightest resistance to worming or trimming.
They behaved entirely differently in the round pen. They were on their best behavior. Just like a bad girls waiting to see the Principal.


Over the last month I have had two of my former riders, who learned to ride excellently quite a while ago, come back and ride in the woods with us, just for fun. I do not know how much fun it was for them, but it sure made my weekend complete.
Shelby and Emily each have horses of their own that they keep at their homes. Shelby has the first mustang colt that I sold, Sand Creek, (named for the location of Chivington's slaughter of Black Kettle's band of Cheyenne) Emily has a beautiful mare from Wind in His Hair and Standing Holy, named Holy Door (named for the mother of Sitting Bull). These kids came into my life just as my daughters were growing up and moving on.
Shelby is 14 now, but in the picture above she was about 7. This was the second riding lesson that I ever gave. Her mother took this picture and I chose it for the cover of my book.
Emily has adopted a young Corolla, who is Manteo's little brother. I look forward to taking him out on a long, long ride soon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Danielle and Lydia

Yesterday was a very special day for Danielle, and it was a pretty good day for Lydia too. Yesterday Danielle gave Bird Women her first independent ride. She has done the work on this filly nearly all by herself. She took her in hand through all of the obstacles that we created in pasture number one until Bird Women gained enough confidence to take a rider. I lead her with Danielle aboard for a bit. Then, at Danielle's request. I tied off the buck rein and she rode her effortlessly around the pasture. The pony was as relaxed as could be. She had come to completely trust Danielle because Danielle had taken the time to earn her trust.
Last night she took on a very serious tone as we sat in the Little House. Reflecting back over the day she said with the utmost seriousness, "I am proud of myself, Steve, and I am proud of Bird Women." I was prouder than she was.
It is great to see a kid proud of something they have done instead of something they have purchased.
Lydia did great too. She is one step away from giving Owl Prophet his first independent ride. Lydia, like Danielle, has developed a remarkable ability to relax a scared horse and make it feel comfortable. She has contagious confidence. She is going to do more with that little stallion than she even realizes, like ride him for a hundred miles over a weekend in a few months.
The picture taken above is about three years old. Danielle and Lydia flank me in the picture. Danielle is the one wearing rib protectors. Lydia is at my immediate left hand.
Riders like this will trick a man into thinking that he is a good teacher.

Good Morning America

On December 9 keep your eyes open as you watch all of Good Morning America on ABC. Terry, her sister, and her mother will be attending in the audience. They will have an eye catching sign and hope for a little camera time to mention the Corollas and our program. Though there are no guarantees, I strongly suspect that they will get a bit of camera time. I am concerned about the safety of anyone who gets between Terry and the camera that morning. The poor, unsuspecting person might end up getting trampled.
If they are on, it will only be for a brief time so you will need to stay focused and alert to see them. You know, like Sarah Lin is in the picture above

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If They Try Hard Enough They Could Learn to Like Me

I have been called an opinionated, know-it-all. Could be right, but I do not know enough about whether I am or not to form an opinion.

Here is a young Corolla who once had a reputation for being difficult being despooked with a tarp. Training a horse to accept a full body tarp cover can be useful both for those with truly ugly horses and for those who plan to slip their horse into the house without their parents noticing.

Jacob and his East/West Cross, Uncle Harley

Here is the beautiful young horse, Uncle Harley, that was donated by Tom Norush for the HOA essay contest. When we got him home we worked him for a while. He took a saddle and Jacob on his back with no resistance.
The picture below, of Sailor, is a picture from the records of the Spanish Mustang Registry.

Bankers in the Spanish Mustang Registry

Dale Burrus was a resident of the Outer Banks, an inspector for the Spanish Mustang Registry, and a tireless advocate of the Bankers. He worked to get several
Bankers registered in the Spanish Mustang Registry. In the picture above one will see Sailor, a great SMR stallion from the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Tom Norush, president of the Horse of the Americas Registry, recognized years ago that crosses between the eastern mustangs of the Outer Banks and the mustangs of the western ranges produced great horses. For years his breeding program has been based on the East/West cross.
This year Tom donated a beautiful colt from his breeding program to the winner of an essay contest sponsored by the HOA. Jacob, one of my riders won the beautiful colt and brought it to our pastures where it now lives with it's Corolla relatives.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Cowboy Way

The Navy sure does have a way of moving people around. Luckily for me, it brought Brent to our area a few years ago. Brent is a former Missouri Bareback Bronc riding champion. He may be the best over-all athlete that I have ever seen. He knows how to stay on the few truly rough horses that we run into now and then. Best of all, he is a great teacher and really loves the kids.
Here he is six days ago giving Spotted Elk his first independent ride. I had lead him in the round pen with two other riders but this was the first time he was given a chance to really learn to be ridden. Spotted Elk is 1/4 Chincoteague and 3/4BLM mustang. He belongs to Loretta, one of my adult riders, and he will make her a great horse.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On Her Own

Danielle has been riding and training with me for a long time. She is only 13 but I have turned one three year old over to her to start on her own. Bird Women will be her first horse to take on with little assistance from me. She will do fine. Last Friday while I was working with one colt she went off to the next pen with a colt that would not allow human contact. Without saying a word she did a great job of advance and retreat until she touched the scared young horse.
She spends more time in the horse lot than any of my riders. Here she is with her current favorite ride, Comet. For those of you who have read my book--yes that Comet. The one that was so hard to start. The one that was just crazy. Now he is sane.

On Naming Horses

Don't the mainstream registries do enough damage to the horse world without encouraging the perpetuation of ridiculous, undignified names for horses? Poor high dollar, "quality" horses with names like , "Boy My Name is Stupid", out of "Please Give me a Humiliating Name, " sired by, "Yeah and My Daddy's Name Was Even Worse."
Visitors are perplexed by my horse's names. I give them dignified, appropriate names that are designed to lead kids to ask questions that would cause them to actually learn something. Questions like, "What does "Quien Es?" signify?" (She was named for the last words of Billy the Kid.) Who was "Spotted Elk"? (The formal name of Big Foot) What was "Wounded Knee"? (Where Big Foot and his people were slaughtered by the Army). What was a "Ghost Dance"? (Part of the ritual of the apocalyptic religion practiced by Big Foot and so many others who hoped for a newer world by bringing back the old ways) Who was "They are Afraid of Her"?(Crazy Horse's beloved daughter who died at about age five)

I warn my little riders that when they grow up they should always avoid marrying someone who would name a brown horse "Brownie", a white horse, "Snow Flake," or a black horse "Beauty." To do so would guarantee a life of bland, predictable, conformist, unimaginative boredom. And after spending a few years riding my horses, that kind of life will never suit them.

Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Horse Feed

Oh how I hate to do it, but sometimes I have to feed the herd horse feed. It is usually done to stretch out hay and is done for economic reasons. Sweet, loving horses need only about three days of eating sweet feed to begin to act as visciously as bargain hunters shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
If there is any way to raise your horse just on grass and hay, do it. That is what they were made to eat. I know that the slick advertising in the horse magazines would have one believe that horses simply must have expensive feed and one finds no flashy ads for grass or hay, but that is only because God does not advertise in those magazines.
Feeding my herds sweet feed is more dangerous than starting colts or gentling wld horses. In fact, odds are that my eventual cause of death will be to get trampled by a herd on a cold, pitch dark winter morning while feeding horse feed to them. Probably on a Tuesday.
If at all possible, please put no more sugar in your horse than you would put in the gas tank of your car.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Conformation Critique

I have been criticized for placing too much emphasis on temperament and not enough on conformation in our program. It has even been suggested that I am unable to recognize correct conformation.

Au contraire, take for example the photo above. Not a bad specimen, a bit light in bone, particularly on the lower extremities, some what showing a lack of balance, and definitely in need of much more flesh and over all bulk.

The horse, on the other hand, is spectacular looking. And quite an athlete too.